“Which Did You Get?” – A New Conversation Starter


In a world consumed with social distancing, masks, and government mandates, many wonder if a return to normalcy is in sight. This pandemic has ignited a great series of medical advancements, especially in the realm of vaccinations and their respective developments. So as to not monopolize the COVID-19 vaccine industry, many different pharmaceutical companies have taken this opportunity to create their own vaccine against their competitors. As more and more people do their part and contribute to ending the spread of this rampant disease, the new conversation starter has become, “Which one did you get,” but what exactly does that mean for you?

The main two businesses at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccine distribution are Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna. Pfizer, known for producing the first smallpox and flu vaccines, comes in two doses that are 21 days apart. Due to the extreme temperatures required to preserve the efficiency of the medicine, mega sites and hospitals are usually the place to get this particular shot as they have industrial freezers. Currently, Pfizer is only available for people ages 16 and up, but they are in the process of testing their product on children 12 and older. The Moderna vaccine also requires a booster, but this time after 28 days, to reach its efficacy to 94%. The vaccine can also be found at mega sites; however, due to the not as extreme temperature it needs for storage, it can be distributed at more locations. Similar to that of Pfizer, Moderna can only be distributed to those that are 18 and older, but is looking to expand to 12 and up. Both of the aforementioned shots are made utilizing mRNA technology that allows the body to create a defense mechanism by making copies of the spike proteins of the SARS-2 virus. With these newly developed antibodies, vaccinated individuals will be able to avoid quarantining in many circumstances and hospitalizations due to COVID-19’s rampant effects in the body. 

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the vaccine department of Johnson & Johnson (J&J), has joined the ranks and contributed its own supplement to the fight against the pandemic. J&J’s one dose fix is made of a technology referred to as a viral vectored vaccine. This adenovirus carries a genetic sequence to instruct the human immune system to create spike proteins. This vaccine is only authorized for adults (18+), and was going to begin trials for the younger population, but was put on a temporary hold due to some side effects that caused concern in the medical community. Initially, millions of doses were contaminated by one of J&J’s distributors. Later, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) called for a temporary halt in production of the vaccine as it caused blood clots in people who had preexisting conditions that cause low platelet levels. The ban has been lifted and now people are able to receive this vaccine to reach 75% of resilience against COVID-19. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is a two-dose that is similar in fashion to that of the J&J vaccine. It also only serves the community of 18 year olds and up, offering 76% of protection.

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All the vaccines provide similar side effects such as a sore arm, fever, chills, headaches and nausea. These symptoms typically last 24 hours and are more prevalent on the second dose of the vaccines. Many parents and adults fear that the vaccine can cause infertility; however this idea has been debunked since there has been no increase in the number of patients who cannot conceive. This stemmed from a German researcher who thought that the vaccine’s spike proteins mimicked that of the placenta’s proteins which would “counteract” the effectiveness of the female reproductive organs. Additionally, any long-standing defects would have presented themselves during the 60 days after vaccination, which was monitored during the clinical trials.

Due to the current, yet drastic need for herd immunity and a return to normalcy, people do not have the option to pick which vaccine they want, unless they are limited due to their age. If you are eligible for a vaccine, the CDC and FDA urge you to get vaccinated so that we can protect the vulnerable and those that do not currently qualify for the vaccine. Many employers and educational institutions are beginning to require proof of vaccination (unless medical or religious exemptions apply) to be able to attend work or school. Furthermore, many travel opportunities both domestic and abroad will mandate a copy of your vaccination card and/or a World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine passport. Do your part and get vaccinated when it is available to you and join in the conversation to know “Which vaccine did you get?”

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